If you want to know how beautiful Taiwan really is, you have to come and see for yourself. You will be amazed at the diversity of ancient species this beautiful and relatively young island has to offer. Come and explore its numerous mountains, forests, wetlands and oceans, and find an incredible collection of natural ecosystems. Taiwan is located along the south east coast of the Asian Continent where the Asian-tropical zone meets the tropical zone. It is surrounded by oceans, and as in the past it experienced frequent mountain-building movement, its landscape is dominated by mountains that rise and fall. Because of this great fluctuation in elevation, many different factors influence its Asian-tropical oceanic climate, which is why organic life on Taiwan is so abundant. Taiwan's diversified natural environment has produced an extensive and precious collection of different species that are known around the world, making Taiwan into a miniature northern hemisphere ecosystem, a natural treasure-house unique in the world. Visitors will therefore find it well worthwhile to come and admire this rich flora and fauna as well as explore the coastal regions and marine life.

Taiwan is surrounded by oceans and therefore has a long coastline, which offers different scenery wherever you go. The West Coast mainly consists of sand dunes, sand beaches, sand bars and lagoons, and its straight coastline is rather monotonous. The East Coast on the contrary presents a dramatic coastline of towering cliffs that almost directly descend into the deep sea. The coastal plains here are very narrow. The rock formations at the North Coast alternate with beautiful bays and offer the most varied coastal landscape of Taiwan, while the South Coast mainly consists of coral reefs. The off shore islands of Taiwan also offer a great variety of geographical landscapes that are characteristic for the region, such as the basaltic rocks of the Penghu islands, the granite rocks of Kinmen, and the marine erosions of Mazu.

Taiwan harbors a great diversity of organic life, and some variations are rarely found elsewhere in the world. An example is the black forest similar to that in Germany, with vegetation going back 30 to 60 million years, such as Taxus sumatrana, mangrove, Taiwan isoetes, and the rare high-altitude grass plains. The world's oldest amphibian, the Formosan salamander, can also be found here, as well as the Formosan black bear, the Mikado pheasant and the land-locked salmon. The beautiful azalea, cherry blossom and maple leaf are also subjects of admiration. If you want to have a taste of this diverse animal and plant life, consider a visit to one of Taiwan's national scenic areas, national parks or forests, or nature reserves, as these form the most ideal outdoor natural resource learning opportunities in Taiwan.

Taiwan's national parks, including Yangmingshan, Taroko, Yushan, Shei-Pa, Kenting, and Kinmen, form the back garden of Taiwan and in themselves are natural treasure-houses. Next to beautiful scenery, they provide shelter to unique animal and plant life, including insects, fish, and birds. The natural reserves actually form miniature ecosystems that not only provide a protected environment but also offer a great alternative for recreational activities, environmental education and academic research. Here, visitors can get away from their hectic lives in the city and enjoy the serene environment.

You can also come to Taiwan to watch its numerous butterflies and birds. Some 17,000 different butterflies are known around the world; almost 400 can be seen in Taiwan, 50 of which are endemic to the island. There are many different sites where you can go to watch them dance in the air, including Doll Valley in Wulai near Taipei, Yangmingshan National Park, Mt. Jiaoban, and Mt.Lala along the Northern Cross-Island Highway, Qilan near Taipingshan, Guguan, Lishan, and Cuifeng along the Central Cross-Island Highway, Nanshan River and Huisun Forest near Puli, Shanlinxi in Nantou County, Butterfly Valley in Pingtung County, Sheding Park and Nanrenshan in Kenting, and Butterfly Valley in Taitung.

Because of its warm and humid climate, Taiwan has an extremely rich vegetation which attracts many birds. Located at the western edge of the Pacific Ocean, it also is a favorite resting area for migratory birds. Resident and migratory birds total some 440 species, and endemic birds such as the black-faced spoonbill and the Sterna leucoptera can be seen here. Sites for watching these migratory birds include The Guandu swamplands in northern Taiwan, Ilan swamplands, mouth of the, Exit Dadu River in central Taiwan and Gaopin River in southern Taiwan. Other bird-watching sites are the Penghu islands, Mazu, Wulai, Mt. g Hehuan, Xitou, Alishan, Yangmingshan National Park, Yushan National Park, Shei-Pa National Park, Taroko National Park, Kenting National Park, Kinmen National Park, Northeast Coast National Scenic Area, and East Coast and the East Rift Valley national dcenic areas.

As Taiwan is surrounded by oceans, marine life and other oceanic resources are abundant and diverse. The clear waters and warm climate of Kenting and Green Island, for example, provide the ideal environment for colorful and peculiarly shaped coral reefs. These not only form the architecture of the undersea world, but also provide shelter for all kinds of tropical fish. In Wangan Island on the Penghus, as well as Orchid Island in Taitung County, you can even see the green sea turtle coming to shore to lay its eggs. Along Taiwan's East Coast, particularly off the coast of Ilan, Hualien, and Taitung, more than 60% of all whale and dolphin species that are found in Taiwan can be spotted. You can choose to take one of the boat trips that are organized in this area. While listening to the introduction by professional whale spotters, the chance of seeing these extraordinary creatures is as high as 90%.

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Information provided by Tourism Bureau, Rep. of China.


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